Winding Up Mad Golfer Mark Hadlow

Mark Hadlow
Mark Hadlow (Photo: Karla Karaitiana)

He has a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the arts and is a commissioned lieutenant commander in the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve but for the actor best known for his roles in big-budget films King Kong and The Hobbit trilogy, Mark Hadlow is also self-proclaimed, ‘Golf Mad’.

Even though his theatre work is now keeping him very busy, his new comedy Winding Up opens at Auckland’s ASB Waterfront Theatre in February, he is sure to find time to hit the local golf course and try and improve on his handicap of 12.

“I play as much as I can where ever I can,” said Hadlow speaking with NZ Golf Magazine.

“North and South Island, some brilliant regional golf courses too, hidden gems. Rangatira has to be one of the best.

“An actor mate of mine Geoff Dolan, a very good golfer, gets me out occasionally, but mostly just love the challenge of trying, sometimes too much, to bring in a good round.

“Martinborough was my home course when I lived there, and now I am an infrequent member of Boulcott Farm Heritage GC in Lower Hutt. I was also a temporary member at Clearwater for six months this year whilst at Court Theatre doing shows Elling and The Father.”

Picking up the game when his first wife introduced him to the Ansett New Zealand Golf weekends back in 1994, Hadlow nowadays doesn’t mind hitting the golf course on his own and using it as a way of staying fit and resting the vocal cords from those punishing nights in the theatre.

“To be honest, I’ve become a bit of a loner on the course. I like my game to be quiet and concentrate, focus on the swing.

“My short game isn’t too bad. To be honest all parts of my game have good and bad moments. As I said it’s the personal challenge to get better.

“I try to walk a course as much as possible, average 7 km. So that’s good exercise. And to be honest, no talking rests the vocal cords too, but it’s important to play and stay a little active and of course, avoid slow play. Quick golf is good golf. You don’t have time to overthink.”

Mark Hadlow
Mark Hadlow getting out of a bunker (Photo: Karla Karaitiana)

Hadlow’s play Winding Up kicks off the 2020 Auckland Theatre Company’s season with the world premiere of a new work by New Zealand’s most successful playwright, Sir Roger Hall.

Winding Up revisits two characters at the heart of his smash-hit play, Conjugal Rites, which subsequently became a popular British TV series. Starring as the hilarious Barry and Gen – now in their seventies and coping with failing health, death of friends, estranged family, the need to downsize and (God help us) planning their funerals – are two of the country’s most celebrated comic actors, Hadlow and Alison Quigan QSM (A Shortcut to Happiness, Calendar Girls, Shortland Street).

Hadlow’s character in the show Barry fits the New Zealand golfer demographic perfectly but he won’t be using a real-life golfer for the character’s base.

“Barry is the core of what I will find in preparation prior to rehearsals and what I will bring out in rehearsals. And of course, the professional process I have with Alison Quigan playing Gen, Barry’s wife, determines a lot of the character too.

“Alison and I know each other very well, and our set of skills we know from way back at Drama School together, and that is pretty special.”

Hadlow will spend a couple of months preparing for the role off-set before an intense three-week full-time rehearsal schedule with the director Colin McColl and his on-screen partner Alison.

“It’s a two-hander and because Alison and I have worked together and know each other our telepathy and rhythm will be on point. Should be a lot of fun, I don’t want to jinx it but Ali is heaps of fun and a stickler for authenticity.”

And as any ‘mad golfer’ would tell you, there’s always a golf story to share, and Mark Hadlow also has a good one.

“Nothing worse than golf stories,” Hadlow laughed.

“But one is certainly at my expense. I teed off on the 12th tee at Clearwater a ‘golfcade’ ago and the ball faded horribly right, and as I watched it disappear out of bounds, I did another practice swing and my club inexplicably flew out of my hand, accidentally landing in the water. Way out of reach.

“Cut a long story short, I paid my nephew to don his wet suit and dive into the water the next day to retrieve it. For $20. It was like Excalibur being raised out of the water.

Winding Up
Winding Up stars Alison Quigan and Mark Hadlow

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As part of our chat with Mark Hadlow we asked if he could have dinner with anyone you wanted (living or dead) and you can pick 3 to join you who would they be and why?

“First would be Audrey Hepburn. There is something about her that just makes me want to sit quietly and listen to her and how she lived. My Fair Lady is one of my favourite musicals, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, another great story. It was an age of stars of Hollywood in a different time, she seemed level headed and had a rare quality in her acting for her time. Loved her humanitarian commitment to UNICEF helping children in Africa/Latin America, which indicated a great woman in a very male-dominated world. Intelligent, beautiful, eloquent and charming, a perfect dinner guest.

I just adore Sir Ian McKellen, and having worked with him in The Hobbit Trilogy, his richness and wealth of knowledge about our industry is like an encyclopaedia. Google even. He is very funny, and just being at the corner of a dinner table, taking in anecdote after anecdote about his career, life, other actors he’s worked with and the decades of changes he’s seen in his lifetime would be priceless.

One of the finest theatre actors of our times naturally opens a cornucopia of performances and plays with stories both risqué and hilarious. I’m salivating just imagining the gems of wisdom and a pure delight to come from storytelling beyond my wildest dreams. Sir Ian as a dinner guest would unleash so many other brilliant and talented actors as if they were seated around the table as well. Perhaps one day. Dreams are free.

Mark Hadlow on the golf course (Photo: Karla Karaitiana)
Mark Hadlow on the golf course (Photo: Karla Karaitiana)

Last but by no means least- and I had to go with a golfer….. and not Donald T, Commander in Cheat great book to read! Mind-boggling.

Anyway, my 3rd guests have to be Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris. Of course, they are from two centuries ago but can you imagine the stories and the banter between father and son?! A perspective of golf from two different generations at the same table talking about the beginnings of golf and the equipment they had; unlike the vast array of scientifically evaluated and billion-dollar developed golfing accoutrements of the modern era. Old Tom and Young Tom both Open winners of the early years and were a colossal part of the development of the game of gold we know today! Scottish golf at the heart of St Andrews. What a combination that would be.”

Mark Hadlow (Photo: Karla Karaitiana)
Mark Hadlow (Photo: Karla Karaitiana)

Winding Up starring Hadlow and Alison Quigan opens at the ASB Waterfront Theatre 11 Feb – 8 March 2020, followed by a North Island tour. Tickets and more info

NZ Golf Magazine has a double ticket pass to the Auckland Preview Performance of Winding Up on Wednesday 12 Feb at 7pm. Enter Here

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